RICHARD III (The Tragedy of King Richard the Third)Date: 1593.
Sources: Hall, and 'The Mirror for Magistrates'.
Period: 1471 - 1485.
Places: The first four acts of this play, with the exception of 3•3, are confined to London and Westminster. The final act goes to Salisbury and then to Bosworth. The Westminster scenes are at the Palace (1•3, 2•1, 2•2, 2•4, 4•2, 4•3, 4•4); those in London are at the Tower (1•4, 3•4, 3•5, 4•1) or in the streets.
1•1. Richard, as Duke of Gloucester, meets Clarence, under guard, on his way to the Tower.
1•2. Richard encounters Henry VI's hearse on its way from St. Paul's to Chertsey, but he diverts it, l•2•230, to Whitefriars according to Shakespeare, but to Blackfriars according to Holinshed. (Both were quite close to St. Paul's, Blackfriars within the City wall at Ludgate and Whitefriars outside it between Fleet Street and the Thames; both had exits on the river, clearly named on Agas' map, affording easy carriage to Chertsey.) The encounter, then, must have been on Ludgate Hill. Nothing more is said of the journey to Chertsey and Henry's final entombment.
2•2, Westminster, probably in the Palace. At 2•2•4, the Queen announces that Edward is dead, and the scene ends with Buckingham's attempt to restrain the usual race to lay hands on the heir to the throne, who happens to be at Ludlow, in the Welsh Marches. Richard does not intend to be left behind. (He was in fact not at Westminster but at Middleham, Yorkshire, and did not hear of Edward IV's death until a few days later.) He was now Protector of the young Prince Edward and determined to get hold of him on his way from Ludlow to Westminster.
At 2•4•1, the Archbishop of York is in London waiting for the heir to the throne, young Prince Edward, to arrive from Ludlow. He says to the widowed Queen, according to the Quarto edition of 1597;
"Last night I heare they lay at Northampton,
At Stonistratford will they be tonight."
But in the Folio, 1623, this appears as:
"Last night I heard they lay at Stony Stratford,
And at Northampton they do rest tonight."
Since Stony Stratford is on the road from Northampton to London, it would seem that the earlier version, Q, must be the correct one and that the only problem is that of explaining the reversals in F. However, a closer look at the events of 1483 shows that the truth is less simple.
Edward IV died on 9th April. His young heir, Edward (V) was at Ludlow under the care of his maternal uncle, Lord Rivers. Edward set out from Ludlow with Lord Rivers about 23rd April. On the 29th, Richard, hurrying southward from Yorkshire, found Rivers awaiting him in Northampton, but Edward had gone on ahead, towards London. Richard arrested Rivers and took him on with him to Stony Stratford, where they caught up with Edward. Richard, as Protector, dismissed most of Edward's escort and took him back to Northampton. Richard now had the Queen-mother in check; but we need follow the moves in Richard's game no farther, for it seems that in putting Stony Stratford before Northampton Shakespeare was merely simplifying some of the to-ing and fro-ing recorded in Hall's chronicle which was irrelevant to his dramatic purposes.
3•1. Young Edward has now arrived in Westminster with uncle Richard and others and is joined by his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York. Uncle Richard suggests that the two boy princes pay a visit to their mother, who happens to be at the Tower...
3•2. At the house of Lord Hastings, not located.
3•3. Outside Pomfret Castle in Yorkshire, where Rivers, Grey and Vaughan await execution.
3•4. A room in the Tower - see 3•2•116-121. At 3•5•37 Buckingham speaks of this room as 'the council house', which must have been either the chamber on the entrance floor or, more likely, the rather larger room above it, next to the chapel.
3•5. Still at the Tower, a reference at 3•5•15 to the draw-bridge. There were, in fact, three successive draw-bridges on the way in through the main SW entrance.
3•6. A brief interlude, presumably in or near St. Paul's.
3•7. Baynard's Castle - see 3•5•104. This scene assumes the existence of a gallery from which Catesby, and then Richard, speaks to Buckingham and the Lord Mayor below.
4•1. Outside the Tower (4•1•97) where the Lieutenant of the Tower prevents the Queen from visiting the imprisoned princes.
4•2. A state-room with throne, in the Palace of Westminster. Richard engages Tyrrell to murder the young princes.
4•3. Probably the same. Tyrrell reports to Richard that the princes are dead and buried.
4•4. A very long scene, opened by old Queen Margaret, widow of Henry VI, who speaks,4•4•3, of 'these confines', apparently alluding to the Palace. Later comes news that a fleet under Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, lies off the western coast and awaits the aid of Buckingham. Derby says Richmond has come to claim the crown. News then pours in of risings in different parts of England and of Richmond's landing at Milford Haven.
4•5. A post-script to 4•4. Richmond is in his way to London.
5•1. At Salisbury - see 4•4•535-538. Buckingham is led to execution.
Richmond (Henry Tudor) moves through Wales to Shrewsbury and then by way of Watling Street into the Midlands, where 5•2 finds Richmond near Tamworth, with news that Richard is at Leicester.
5•3. Richard takes up a position between Leicester and Tamworth, near Market Bosworth, on a ridge overlooking the marshy lowland now threaded by the Ashby Canal. His force greatly out-numbers that of Henry Tudor. This composite scene opens with the pitching of Richard III's tent on one side of the stage, followed by that of Richmond (Henry Tudor) on the other. The action then alternates from one to the other as if they were separate scenes, thus:
RIII. At 18, Richard shows it to be the eve of battle.
Richmond. At 19, a golden sunset is a good omen. At 33, lord Stanley's regiment is "half a mile at least" S of RIII's main army; Richmond sends him a note.
RIII. It is now 9 p.m. At 61,RIII orders Stanley to bring his regiment in before sunrise - and RIII holds his son George as a hostage. He tells Ratcliffe to arm him about midnight.
Richmond. Stanley, well-known for backing winners, now deserts RIII for Richmond, who is his step-son, though "on thy side I may not be too forward, lest, being seen, thy brother, tender George, be executed..." And now, "The silent hours steal on, and flaky darkness breaks within the East".
RIII is now visited in succession by the ghosts of those whom he has murdered or wronged, most of whom, as disembodied spirits, are also able to speak a few words of praise or blessing to Richmond.
Richmond. It is 4 a.m. and time to arm. He harangues his troops.
RIII. He now sends for Stanley's regiment and sets out his order of battle.
5•4 Richard III's army is on a ridge overlooking Richmond on the marsh ground. Richard leads a downhill charge on horseback which is bogged down and leaves him shouting, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
5•5 Richard is killed (though probably not, as here, by Richmond) and Stanley presents his crown to Richmond, who vows, "We will unite the white rose and the red". The Wars of the Roses are over.
A-Z References: Baynard's Castle, Bosworth, Brecknock, Brittany, Buckingham, Burgundy, Canterbury, Chertsey, Clarence, Crosby Place, Devon, Dorset, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildhall, Ha'rford West, Hastings, Holborn, Leicester, London, Ludlow, Milford Haven, Northampton, Pembroke, Pomfret, Richmond, Rougemont, Saint Albans, Salisbury, Stony Stratford, Tamworth, Tewkesbury, Tower of London, Wales, Westminster Abbey and Palace, Whitefriars, York.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
Date: Probably1595; first recorded performance, 1594.
Sources: Chiefly Plautus's 'Menaechmi'; also his 'Amphitruo' and New Testament 'Acts' and 'Epistle to the Ephesians'.
Places: There is no change of scene in this play. It is set in a street or square in Ephesus (q.v.), backed by the entrances to three buildings, namely, a priory marked by a cross, the house of Antipholus of Ephesus marked by the sign of a phoenix, and a brothel marked by the sign of a porcupine. At 4•1•85, there is a stage-direction, "Enter Dromio of Syracuse from the bay", evidently intended to ensure that the audience shall not confuse this Dromio with his twin, who has just emerged from beneath the sign of the porcupine.
Plautus had set the scene of 'Menaechmi' in Epidamnum, but Shakespeare substituted Ephesus, perhaps because its biblical associations would make it more familiar to his audiences, and possibly because it was metrically easier to handle. The plot of 'Menaechmi', though based on the confusion of identical twins, is fairly straightforward, but in this play Shakespeare doubles the confusion by having two pairs of twins, and the action is preceded by a long explanatory introduction from Egeon in 1•1.
There was hostility between Ephesus and Syracuse. Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, is brought before the Duke of Ephesus for illegally entering his city, and Egeon tells his story.
Some twenty years previously Egeon's wife Emilia had borne him twin sons, now named Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus (whom we may abbreviate to AS and AE). Another pair of identical twins, Dromio of Syracuse (DS) and Dromio of Ephesus (DE) had been adopted as their attendants. They were all on a sea-voyage when a storm sank their ship. Egeon, with AS and DS, was taken on board a ship from Epidamnum (or Epidaurus, see below), while Emilia, with AE and DE, was rescued by fishermen from Corinth. At the age of eighteen (1•1•124) AS and DS had left Syracuse in order to hunt for Emilia and the other pair, AE and DE. After a few more years old Egeon had in turn set out to look for AS, and had thus arrived in Ephesus.
In 1•2, AS and DS are in Ephesus. AS sends DS to the Centaur Inn with some money and tells him to wait there. While DS is absent, DE enters; AS mistakes this twin for his brother DS - and 'the comedy of errors' begins.
A further complication is introduced if we accept Egeon's statement, at 1•1•93, that the ship that picked him up was from Epidaurus, for there were three places of that name (q.v.); but we may perhaps curtail discussion of which of the three is intended, by pointing out that at 5•1•355 Emelia (now an abbess) speaks of Epidamnum, not Epidaurus. Indeed, the name Epidaurus is used only this once, whereas Epidamnum occurs several times, so it seems reasonable to regard Epidaurus as either a slip on Shakespeare's part or a printer's misreading of his handwriting. Even this does not dispose of every difficulty, and one can only agree with the 'Arden' editor, R.A.Foakes, that "the geography of Shakespeare's play is not fully explicable".
In 3•2, Dromio of Syracuse describes the physical features of fat Nell, a kitchen-maid (who makes no appearance on the stage), in terms of a terrestrial globe. Even before Magellan's expedition of 1519 had finally proved that the Earth was round, German map-makers were producing terrestrial globes, and a globe became something of a status-symbol in the library of every mansion, especially in England after Drake's return in 1580 from his voyage around the world. The dialogue in 3•2 is broadly farcical - boggy Ireland, barren Scotland, chalky England, hot Spain, low Netherlands, and so on - but there are a couple of interesting topical allusions in it:
At 121, "Where France?" - "In her forehead, armed and reverted, making war against her heir." This is an allusion to the civil war in France, 1589-93, in which English troops took part on the side of Henry of Navarre against the Catholic League.
At 131, "Where America, the Indies?" provides Shakespeare's only direct mention of America, and the Indies (q.v.) here means the West Indies. The reply, "O, sir, upon her nose, all o'er-embellished with rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich aspect to the hot breath of Spain, who sent whole armadoes of carracks to be ballast at her nose", of course alludes to the plundering by Spain of the treasure and mineral wealth of Mexico and Peru and its transfer to Spain by its fleet of galleons - though not without some loss to English pirates.
A-Z References: America, Asia, Belgia, Corinth, Ephesus, Epidamnum, Epidaurus, Globe, Greece, Indies (West),Lapland, Netherlands, Persia, Poland, Spain, Syracuse, Tartar.
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
Date: 1594, or earlier.
Source: Possibly Montemayor's 'Diana' or a lost play.
Period: Italian Renaissance. Verona came under the rule of Milan in 1587, but was ceded to the Venetian Republic in 1405. The Duchy of Milan was ruled by the Visconti family until 1447, and then by the Sforzas until 1555, when it came under the rule of Spain. In the play, there is confusion between the 'Duke of Milan' and the 'Emperor'; the latter, who does not appear in person under that title, was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, which nominally included the Duchy of Milan but not the Venetian Republic.
Places: "The author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country; he places the Emperor at Milan... He has by mistaking places left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot." (Samuel Johnson.)
The main action is set in Verona and Milan. Verona is an inland city on the R. Adige about 50 miles W of Venice, and Milan is about 75 miles further W on the plain of N Italy. The stage directions of the Folio contain hardly any indications of locality; these have been added by editors, and one cannot but feel that in this play Shakespeare often avoids the introduction of place-names in order to disguise its topographical weaknesses.
1•1. Verona. Valentine is about to leave for Milan - by ship! (1•1•54, 71, 72; 2•3•33)
1•2. Verona, Julia's garden.
1•3. Verona, Antonio's house. There are several allusions to Valentine's visit to "the Emperor's court", but Milan is not - at l•3•85 we suddenly encounter the uncertain glory of an April and know that at that Shakespeare's thoughts were neither in Verona nor Milan but in England.
2•1. Milan, unlocated but probably in a street.
2•2. Verona, Julia's house or garden. Proteus has to depart, for "the tide is now" - see 1•1, above. There is, in fact, a perceptible tide in Venice, at the head the Adriatic, but for the most part the Mediterranean is virtually tideless.
2•3. Verona, a street. At 2 •3•36, Panthino cries, "Launce, away, away; aboard; ...away, ass, you'll lose the tide, if you tarry longer."
2• Milan, the Duke's palace. That Valentine and Proteus have come from Verona is not mentioned.
2•5. 'Padua', at 2•5•1, can only be regarded as an interesting mistake. It has been suggested that written in as an afterthought, in order to separate the monologues by Proteus with which 2•4 ends and 2•6 begins; if so, it may well have been written during the rehearsals of The Taming of the Shrew, which is located in Padua. Here, it should of course be 'Milan'.
2•6. Milan, probably at the Duke's palace.
2•7. Verona, Julia's house. Julia intends "a journey to my loving Proteus", and Lucetta points out that "the way is wearisome and long", but neither of them mentions Milan.
3•1. At 3•1•81, the Duke says to Valentine, "There is a lady in Verona here", but this scene is certainly in Milan, so 'in Verona' should probably be read as 'from Verona', or 'of Verona'. At 252-258 Valentine is to leave Milan by way of the North Gate - which would lead him to lake Como rather than back to Verona!
3•2. Milan, the palace as distinct from the city, for at 3•2•90 Thurio says, "Let us into the city presently" to look for musicians.
In acts and we see a good deal of a conveniently vague 'forest' and 'another part of the forest'. Some editors have tried to be more precise, though probably without much regard for the ecological realities of the Plain of Lombardy, especially around Mantua, where much of the landscape was occupied by fens and lagoons. Moreover, Milan and Verona were still linked by the Roman road through Bergamo.
4•1. Outlaws in the forest hold up Valentine on his way to Verona. The Third Outlaw claims to be Veronese, but the Second Outlaw was a Mantuan who had impulsively killed a gentleman, and the First Outlaw had been banished "for suchlike petty crimes as these".
4•2. Milan, the palace, where musicians arrive and Host sings "Who is Sylvia?". At 4•2•81, Thurio and Proteus agree to meet at St. Gregory's well, which is known to have existed in Milan.
(4•3 - 4•4. Milan. Silvia, at 4•3•22, says, "I would to Valentine/ to Mantua, where I hear he makes abode". Mantua (Mantova) is about 20 miles S of Verona and 80 miles E of Milan At 4•3•43, Friar Patrick's cell appears to be an invented name.
5•1. Milan, a short scene near a postern gate leading towards the forest.
5•2. Milan, the palace. The Duke says that Silvia and Sir Eglamour have been seen in the forest making for Mantua, and he goes in pursuit.
5•3. The forest. The Outlaws capture Silvia and are taking her to their captain's cave at "the west end of the wood"
5•4. "This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods", says Valentine - 'desert' here meaning wild and deserted rather than arid. Nevertheless, the chief characters somehow manage to assemble in this particular neck of the woods, where the Duke pardons the Outlaws and they all set out for Milan and matrimony.
A-Z References: Elysium, Ethiope, Hellespont, Mantua, Milan, Padua, Verona.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
Date: 1594 or earlier.
Sources: The relationship between this play and a play by an anonymous author, 'A Taming of a Shrew', is not clear, but the theme was a common one in folklore.
Period: Induction, Tudor England; play, Italian Renaissance.
Places: (a) The Induction consists of two short scenes set in rural Warwickshire:
Ind. 1. Before an ale-house on a heath, where Sly is discovered in a drunken sleep by a lord returning from hunting, who plays a trick on him.
Ind. 2. A richly furnished bedroom in the lord's mansion. Sly awakes and asks, "Am not I Christopher Sly, old Sly's son of Burton-heath... a tinker? Ask Marion Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she knows me not..." He is made to believe that players will perform before him and a page, who is dressed up as his wife.
When the play begins, Sly and the page watch it from the gallery, and they comment on it at the end of 1•1. But that is the last of them, and it seems that the idea of ending each scene with Sly's comments on it was dropped.
(b) In contrast to the Warwickshire Induction, the Italian locations of the play had obviously not been visited by Shakespeare when he wrote it. He makes seaports of inland Padua(l•1•42,229; 1•2•47-48) and Mantua (4•2•81-83), and at 4•5•SD he invents "asteep hill on the highway to Padua" across the plain of the Veneto.
The first three acts are set in Padua, either in a public square or in one of the houses overlooking it. The action opens with the arrival in the square of Lucentio and Tranio from Pisa. The door of Baptista's house opens and its owner emerges with his daughters, Katharina (the shrew) and Bianca, followed by Gremio, a pantaloon, and Hortensio, Bianca's suitor.
1•2. Petruchio and Grumio arrive from Verona and thicken an already complicated plot by adding a Grumio to a Gremio.
Act 2 is a single long scene in Baptista's house, in which Lucentio and others appear in disguises and Petruchio and Katharina exchange blows, bites and scratches.
3•1 is still in the house of Baptista, though in Bianca's room, and 3•2 returns to the public square where there is a strange wedding scene between Petruchio and Katharine.
Act 4 opens on a wintry day at Petruchio's country house (presumably near Padua) which is being made ready by Grumio, Curtis and other servants. The hall has a fire-place and stairs leading up to a gallery, and one of its doors opens on an outside porch. Petruchio and Katharina arrive, travel- stained. Petruchio bullies the servants and then takes Katharina upstairs to the bridal chamber and speaks from the gallery.
4•2. Padua, the public square. Lucentio woos Bianca and is watched from behind a tree by Hortensio and Tranio.
4•3. Petruchio's country house. In arranging with a tailor to have a gown made for 'Kate', Petruchio at 4•3•183 makes an incongruous allusion to London's 'Long-lane'.
4•4. Padua, the public square, with Petruchio and Kate. Baptista comes out of his house, and then the door of Tranio's lodging opens and there is much coming and going.
4•5. A 'steep hill on the highway leading to Padua' is conjured up, probably to justify the fact that Petruchio and his party, who would normally be travelling on horseback or in a coach, are dismounted, nominally in order not to over-strain their horses on the hill – see 4•5•9 – but in fact to avoid bringing horses onto the stage.
5•1. Padua, the public square again; then in 5•2 the house of Lucentio, who has won his Bianca.
A-Z References: (Induction) Burton Heath, Greet, Wincot. (Play) Adriatic Sea, Bergamo, Carthage, Florence, Genoa, Mantua, Marseilles, Padua, Pisa, Tripoli, Turkey, Tyrian, Venice, Verona.
Date: 1594, or earlier.
Sources: An old Italian tale. Some critics think that George Peele (1556 -1596) wrote act 1 and possibly more.
Period: late 4th century A.D., after the Gothic invasion of Rome.
Places: This gruesome play is sketchily located in and around a Rome that has been plundered by the Goths.
The opening SDs show the scene to be intended for acting on a typical Elizabethan stage (see Appendix C), with tribunes and senators in the upper stage, while beneath them Saturninus and his followers enter the proscenium by one door, Bassianus and his followers by the other, on what is supposed to be the road to the Capitol. They both dismiss their followers and then, at 1•1•62, Saturninus says, "Open the gates and let me in," and he and Bassianus "go up into the Senate-house'. Then a procession enters, 'as many as can be', with the coffin of one of Titus' sons, for which they 'open the tomb' - in this case probably the curtained inner stage, rather than a trap-door - and at 1•1•149 they lay the coffin in the tomb.
At 1•1•286 there is a struggle over Lavinia, in which Titus kills one of his sons, Mutius, and Saturninus, Tamora, and others exeunt and then reappear in the gallery. When Saturninus and Tamora speak, Titus, below, hears and comments on what they say, but apparently they do not hear him. Later, the body of Mutius is put in the tomb.
Act 2 is set in several parts of a forest which is imagined as approaching quite close to the Palace. (If Shakespeare indeed had a particular palace in mind it would have been that of Domitian, on the Palatine hill.) At 2•1•46, Aaron rebukes Chiron and Demetrius for duelling "so near the emperor's palace", and at 2•2•1-4, Titus and his sons awaken the emperor and his bride with the sound of their horns and the cry of their hounds.
In 2•3, Aaron takes two of Titus' sons to a "loathsome pit" covered with briars, into which Martius falls and discovers the corpse of murdered Bassianus. At 2•3•246, Saturninus speaks of it as "this gaping hollow of the earth", which suggests either a very large trap-door on the stage or else the use of part of the theatre 'pit' near one of the pillars, which would serve as the elder-tree at 2•3•277. In 2•4, "enter the empress' sons, with Lavinia, with her hands cut off and her tongue cut off, and ravish'd."
3•1. We turn from sylvan delights to a street in Rome leading to a place of execution, where Aaron chops off Titus' left hand. At 3•1•233, the hand is returned to Titus together with the severed heads of two of his sons.
3•2. Titus' house; a banquet. It has been suggested that this scene was a later addition to the play.
4•1. An outdoor scene, probably in the garden of Titus' house - see 4•1•120. At 4•l•69, Marcus says, "This sandy plot is plain" (i.e., flat), and he shows tongueless and handless Lavinia how to write in the sand with a staff guided by her feet and mouth.
4•2 - 4•3. Evidently a public place near the Palace.
5•1. Near Rome, with the army of the Goths, and a tree used as a gibbet.
The rest of the play is located at Titus' house, which is evidently a capacious mansion. In 5•2, Tamora and her two sons knock at Titus' study door and he lets them in. His nephew Publius binds the two sons, Titus cuts their throats, and Lavinia catches their blood in a basin. Titus intends to grind their bones to powder in order to mix it with the blood to make a dough with which to cover their severed heads before baking them as pies.5•3. Titus' banquet to Saturninus and Tamora, now emperor and empress. After killing Lavinia for shaming him by being ravished, Titus feeds his visitors on the human pies and then tells them what they have eaten. Titus then stabs Tamora, Saturninus stabs Titus, Lucius stabs Saturninus, and Aaron is taken away to be buried alive. Lucius, by the process of elimination, then becomes emperor.
(This bloody play appears to have been popular with Elizabethan audiences, but it was produced only three times in the nineteenth century. In 1923 it was performed at the Old Vic theatre, but the last act was too much for the audience - they roared with laughter!)
A-Z References: Acheron, Capitol, Caucasus, Cimmerian, Cocytus, Etna, Goths, Moor, Pantheon, Rome, Scythia, Senate-house, Styx, Thrace, Troy.
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST
Sources: Not known. It was almost certainly written as a private production for the Earl of Southampton and doubtless contained allusions that would be recognised by his circle but are now lost.
Period: 15th or 16th century.
Places: The play is set at the court of the King of Navarre, a small buffer state between France and Spain at the western endof the Pyrenees. The name of the state capital, Pamplona., is not mentioned and it is clear that Shakespeare's reason for using the name of Navarre was that it was temporarily 'in the news'. In 1589, Henry of Navarre, a champion of Protestantism in Europe, gained the throne of France, and Queen Elizabeth sent an English contingent to help him in his war against the Catholics. This made the name of Navarre very popular in England - until Henry became a Catholic convert ("Paris is well worth a mass") in July 1593.
In the play, the King is named Ferdinand, and part of Navarre had indeed been annexed by Ferdinand V of Spain in 1516. At 2•1 •129, the King speaks to the Princess of France of her father's debt to him, for which he holds as security the adjacent French province of Aquitaine. This could be a reference to one of several such transactions made in the 15th and 16th centuries; but neither this nor the use of the name of Ferdinand is sufficient to make an historical play out of this lively comedy.
In the long final scene, 5•2, the King and lords appear disguised as Muscovites. Russia had been almost unknown to England until Richard Chancellor's expedition rounded the North Cape in 1553 and found a Muscovy which was rapidly expanding under Ivan the Great and Ivan the Terrible. In 1583 diplomatic relations were established between the courts of England and Muscovy, and Ivan the Terrible, though his fifth wife was still alive, asked Queen Elizabeth for the hand of Lady Mary Hastings. His timely death in the following year preserved the lady from that fate but left her with the nickname of 'Empress of Muscovy'. Hakluyt's 'Principall Navigations,' (1589) and Fletcher's 'Of the Russe Commonwealth' (1591) did much to arouse interest in Russia.
A-Z References:Alençon, Aquitaine, Brabant, Dutchman, Hesperides, Ilion, Inde, Mantua, Mediterranean, Muscovites, Navarre, Nemean, Normandy, Russia, Spain, Troy, Tyburn, Venice.
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM
Date: 1594-6, probably winter 1595, for the wedding of Lady Elizabeth Carey, granddaughter of Lord Hunsdon, to Thomas, son of Lord Berkeley (see Appendix A) in February 1596.
Sources: There are hints of Shakespeare's wide reading of Chaucer Spenser, Montemayor, Ovid and others, but the true source was his own imagination.
Period: This is neither the Athens of Ancient Greece nor the Ottoman Athens of Shakespeare's time (still less the traffic- bound Athens of today); it is the Athens of a dream, presided over by the ever-present, ever-changing Moon.
Scenes and Places: The earliest known text of the play, Ql, is not divided into acts or scenes; in FI it is divided into five acts, without subdivision; later editors divided each of the first four acts into two scenes and added locations.
Having regard for Bottom's, "Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream", the notes that follow do no more than expose a few major features of the delicate structure of this play.
l•l. Apparently at the Duke's palace in Athens. The moon is mentioned thrice in the first ten lines, and its influence, in all its feminine significance, may be said to permeate the whole play, which begins four days before new moon, when the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta is to be celebrated. At 1•1•156-178, Hermia agrees to meet Lysander "in the wood, a league without the town" and marry him at his aunt's house, seven leagues from Athens.
1•2. Probably at the cottage of Peter Quince, a carpenter, who allots parts in his play to his fellow artisans ('clowns' in the modern sense they are not) and tells them to meet for rehearsal on the morrow at the Duke's oak, "in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight".
2•1. SD: "Enter a Fairy at one door, and Puck at another", but despite the 'doors' the scene is imagined as being set in the moonlit woods.
We have now been introduced to the three worlds of the play: the world of the lovers, the world of the lowly artisans, the world of the fairies. Now they begin to inter-penetrate.
2•2. Another part of the wood. Note the fairy tempo (well understood by Mendelssohn): Titania gives her fairies "the third part of a minute" for their tasks. She falls asleep and Oberon enters and squeezes a juice upon her eye-1ids. Then the lovers' world impinges on the fairy world as Hermia and Lysander fall asleep in the moonlit wood, where Puck finds them. The lovers awaken and depart, but Titania sleeps on.
3•1. Titania sleeps on as the artisans enter "this green plot" and rehearse their play but discover two problems, one of which is "to bring the moonlight into a chamber". As men of the 'real' world of time and space they consult an almanac and find that the moon will be shining on the night of the play. When Bottom exits Puck follows him, and when Bottom next enters his head is that of an ass. His companions flee. Titania awakes, and so the fairy queen falls in love with the asinine artisan.
3•2. Still in the wood, there is more interplay between fairies and lovers, in the course of which Hermia, refusing to believe that Lysander has deserted her, uses a strange involuted image: "I'll believe as soon/ this whole earth may be bor'd, and that the moon/ may through the centre creep, and so displease/ her brother's noon-tide with th' Antipodes". (3•2•52-55).
4•1. Still in the wood, with fairies and lovers, and now with the Duke and his huntsmen, for the short midsummer night is ending, dreamers are awakening and fairies departing.
4•2. Again at Quince's cottage. Bottom is restored to his friends and their play is to be performed that night before the Duke.
5•1. The Duke's palace. The weddings of the Duke and Hippolyta, and of the, two pairs of lovers, have been celebrated, and now there is "this long age of three hours/ between our after-supper and bed-time". The artisans are brought in and perform their uproarious version of 'Pyramus and Thisbe', in which Starveling, "with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn, presenteth Moonshine". After the play, two of them dance a Bergomask, and then, "The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve./lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time." All go. Then Puck appears and ushers in the fairies, who resume their sway until daybreak.
A-Z References: Amazon, Athens, Carthage, Crete, Egypt, India, Sparta, Thebes, Thessaly, Thrace.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Source: Chiefly Brooke's, 'The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet', 1562.
Period: Supposedly early 14th century, when Verona was still an independent republic under the Della Scala family, of which 'Prince Escalus' was a member. In the play, there is a feud between two of the leading Veronese families, the Montagues and the Capulets; Romeo is a Montague, Juliet a Capulet.
Places: With the exception of one scene, 5•1, in Mantua, the whole play is located in or near Verona, a city that lies mostly within a curve of the River Adige on the N edge of the Plain of Lombardy some 60 miles W of Venice.
A feature of the play is in the way in which the passage of time is indicated from scene to scene.
1•1-1•2. Verona, a public place or street. At 1•1•100, 'Freetown' is Villafranca di Verona, some ten miles SW of the city, on the road to Mantua.
1•3. Capulet's house, traditionally at the crossing of Via Cappello and Via Stella and now named 'Casa di Giuletta'. It now houses the tourist office, and has a courtyard overlooked by a balcony.
At l•3•23, Nurse says, "'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years", and attempts have been made to Date: the events in the play from this, but Verona is in the Alpine zone where earthquakes are too frequent for such use; equally inconclusive have been attempts to see in it a reminiscence of an earth-tremor in England.
1•4. A street, at night, 1•4•105.
1•5. Capulet's house; the same night; a dance in the hall.
2•1-2•2. The orchard of Capulet's house, 2•1•30, where later that night, Romeo, having climbed in over the wall, sees Juliet above him at a window, 2•2•2, though she is not aware of his presence until 2 •2•50.
2•3. The herb-garden of a monastery at dawn; Friar Laurence meets Romeo.
2 •4. A street, at noon, 2•4•112, with Romeo.
2•5. Capulet's house, at noon, 2•5•9, with Juliet.
2•6. The monastery, shortly after noon.
3•1. A street, in the heat of the day.
3•2. Capulet's house, afternoon, with Juliet longing for night to come.
3•3. The Monastery; Friar Laurence tells weeping Romeo to climb up to Juliet's room - "But look thou stay not till the Watch be set,/ for then thou canst not pass to Mantua", for the city gates would then be closed.
3•4. Capulet'1s house, Monday night, 3•4•18. Juliet is to be married to Paris on Thursday.
3•5. Capulet's house; SD: "Enter Romeo and Juliet aloft at the window", before dawn. Nurse enters (below?) and warns that Lady Capulet is coming and it is daybreak. Romeo descends and exits before Lady Capulet enters; she calls up to Juliet, who then leaves the window and comes down to her. She tells Juliet she will be married to Paris early on Thursday, at St. Peter's Church.
4•1. The Monastery, Tuesday, 4•1•90. Friar Laurence promises Juliet that on Wednesday night he will give her a drug that will make her appear to be dead for 42 hours, so that she will be laid in the Capulet tomb on Thursday; he will send for Romeo to carry her off to Mantua.
4•2. Capulet's house, Tuesday evening, 4•2•39.
4•3. Juliet's room, Wednesday night, 4•3•22; she takes the drug and then, SD: "falls upon her bed within the curtains".
4•4. Capulet's house, the hall, 3 a.m., Thursday.
4•5. The same, but Nurse now goes to the curtains and finds Juliet apparently dead. The Friar, the bridegroom Paris, and musicians arrive, but the wedding will now become a funeral.
5•1. Mantua, 20 miles S of Verona; a street. Romeo hears of Juliet's 'death' and entombment. He finds an apothecary who will sell him poison.
5•2. The Monastery. Friar Laurence's letter to Romeo had not been delivered, and Juliet is due to awaken within three hours.
5•3. A churchyard, with the Capulets' tomb. Romeo breaks into it. Paris fights him and is killed. Romeo takes poison and dies. Laurence enters. Juliet awakens and sees Romeo's body; she stabs herself. It is now morning, and Prince Escalus arrives, and then the Montagues and Capulets who are reconciled in sorrow.
A-Z References: Freetown, Mantua, St. Peter's, Verona.
RICHARD II (The Tragedy of King Richard the Second)
Date: 1595; published in 1597.
Sources: Holinshed, Hall, Froissart, Daniel's 'Civil Wars'.
Period 1398 - 1400.
Places: Richard, younger son of the Black Prince, was born at Bordeaux in 1367. He became king at the age of ten, and at fourteen had coped with the peasants' revolt. At sixteen he had married Anne of Bohemia, and he deeply felt her loss when she died, still young, in 1394. Two years later he married by proxy the seven-year-old Isabella of France. By that time he had successfully exerted his authority in Ireland and, when the play begins, was ruling as an almost absolute monarch.
In the Parliament of January 1398 at Shrewsbury, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, had accused Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, of treason. A month later they appeared before a commission and were then arrested and ordered to appear before the King at Windsor.
Act 1 opens at Windsor Castle towards the end of April 1398. To hear the case, according to Holinshed, "There was a great scaffold erected within the castle of Windsor for the King to sit with the lords and prelates of his realm". When the two dukes refused to be reconciled Richard ordered trial by combat on St. Lambert's day, 16th September.
1•2 is an interlude between John of Gaunt, father of Bolingbroke, and Gaunt's widowed sister-in-law, the Duchess of Gloucester. She asks Gaunt to beg her brother, the Duke of York, to visit her at her house at Pleshy, Essex.
1•3 describes the tournament at Coventry, with its anti-climax when, after the charge is sounded, Richard stops the charge and banishes the contestants - Bolingbroke for ten years, Norfolk for life.
1•4. At the royal court in Westminster, Richard announces his intention of going to Ireland, and when Bushy brings newsthat old John of Gaunt is "grievous sick" Richard hopes he will die so that "the lining of his coffers shall make coats/ to deck our soldiers for these Irish wars".
2•1. At Ely House, London, the dying John of Gaunt delivers his famous eulogy of "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England". Richard enters, and exchanges bitter words with his dying uncle. On his death, Richard confiscates his property, despite York's protests, and announces his departure for Ireland.
Northumberland then reports that Bolingbroke (Hereford) and his friends have assembled a force at Port Blanc in Brittany and mean to invade England when the King leaves for Ireland. In fact, Richard landed at Waterford in Ireland on 1st June, leaving the Duke of York as regent in England. The Brittany force sailed up-Channel to Boulogne, where Bolingbroke joined it, and crossed to Pevensey. He received no warm welcome in the South of England and decided to follow the East coast northward to Yorkshire, where he knew he would find support. Early in July he landed at Ravenspur, at the mouth of the Humber, and made for his castle at Pomfret (Pontefract), where Northumberland, Hotspur and many others joined him.
The Duke of York, at St. Albans, sent to Richard, begging him to return from Ireland, and a tense strategic situation developed. York needed to fall back westward to make contact with Richard returning from Wales, but to do so might let Bolingbroke through to London. Bolingbroke, on the other hand, had to choose between a march on London and a south-westward strike to prevent Richard and York from joining forces.
In 2•2 York, old and indecisive, describes the situation to Richard's young Queen Isabel at Windsor and then calls for a rendezvous at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. The next scene, 2•3, is significant in more ways than one. It opens on Bolingbroke and Northumberland searching for Berkeley Castle. They have evidently ridden from Pomfret along the ancient Roman road (or what was left of it) through Cirencester and into "these high wild hills and rough uneven ways" of the Cotswolds (Cotshall), a district well-known to Shakespeare. At 2•3•20, Harry Percy, 'Hotspur', joins them and points out the castle, whence Lord Berkeley emerges with the Duke of York. The latter agrees to an inglorious neutrality, and Bolingbroke decides to go on a further fifteen miles to Bristol and take its castle, held by Bushy, Greene and Bagot, "caterpillars of the commonwealth". In 2•4, Richard has sent Salisbury from Ireland to gather support in Wales, but the morale of his Welsh supporters declines as they await his return.
Act 3 opens with the capture of Bristol and ends with Bolingbroke intending "to fight with Glendor and his complices", but we hear no more of Glendower until the next play, 1HIV. At 3•2, Richard has left Ireland and landed in Wales at 'Barkloughly castle', which is not Berkeley but Holinshed's misreading of an earlier English chronicler's unconvincing attempt to spell Harlech, whose castle overlooks Tremadoc Bay in N. Wales. Bolingbroke led his force northward up the Severn valley and entered Chester on 9th August. Richard, keeping west of Snowdonia, reached Conway castle on the 11th. There Salisbury met him, 3•2•65, with news that the Welshmen had deserted. News of York's defection came as a final blow, and Richard decided to disband his followers and take refuge at Flint castle. According to Holinshed, negotiations went on between Richard at Conway and Bolingbroke at Chester, with Northumberland as go-between occupying Flint as a half-way house; Shakespeare omits this in order to confront Richard and Bolingbroke in 3•3. Richard surrenders, "For do we must what force will have us do. Set on towards London, cousin. Is it so?"
• is the well-known garden scene, located by editor Capell as the Duke of York's garden at King's Langley - not that its location matters, for the scene is unhistorical and is intended both as an allegory of the state of England and a brief respite from the mounting tragedy of Richard.
Act 4 takes place in Westminster Hall, at the meeting of Parliament on 30th September, 1399, at which Richard is deposed and sent to the Tower of London. From this day Bolingbroke reigns as King Henry IV.
In 5•1, Richard, on the way to the Tower, hears that Henry has changed his mind and is sending him to Pomfret castle.
5•2, in London, is presumably set at York's residence, York Place, which later became Whitehall; this and the next two scenes at Windsor Castle disclose Aumerle's plot to kill the new king. But the play is Richard's, and 5•5 is set in ill-famed Pomfret, where he lies at the hand of Exton who, in the final scene delivers Richard's body to Henry at Windsor.
A-Z References: Alps, Antipodes, Aumerle, Berkeley, Bolingbroke, Bristol, Calais, Canterbury, Carlisle, Caucasus, Ciceter, Coventry, Derby, Eden, Ely House, England, Exeter, Exton, Flint, Gaunt, Gloucester, Golgotha, Hereford, Ireland, Italy, Jewry, Lancaster, Langley, Norfolk, Northumberland, Oxford, Plashy, Pomfret, Port Blanc, Ravenspur, Ross, Salisbury, Saracens, Surrey, Tower of London, Turks, Wales, Westminster, Wiltshire, Windsor, Woodstock, York.